Uncanny Landscapes


Over the past few weeks, Rupert Griffiths and I have been putting together a week long event for March 2013 based upon uncanny renderings of the landscape. The Centre for Creative Collaboration have been kind enough to support our endeavor and lent us their venue to host the event. There is still some work to go in organising the workshop aspects of the event but I am pleased to announce that confirmed participants include Jane Rendell (UCL) and Tim Edensor (MMU). The current call for papers is posted below, however the event will have it’s own site here which should be up and running in the next week or so with some additional information.

Uncanny Landscapes

Centre for Creative Collaboratio

16 Acton Street, Kings Cross, London.

4th-8th March 2013

Uncanny Landscapes is an exhibition, workshop and conference which brings together artists and academics whose work addresses ambiguity between subject, object and landscape relations. The uncanny (unheimlich) was perhaps most famously sketched out by Freud (1919). Defined as ‘”everything that ought to have remained secret and hidden but has come to light.” (Schelling), the uncanny represents that which upsets, disrupts or disturbs our engagement with the world around us. ‘The Uncanny’ was a unique work in Freud’s oeuvre; unstable, oscillating between analysis and fiction itself blurring the distinction between the real and the imaginary. The idea of the uncanny has since been revisited and reworked in numerous ways, from the architectural to the technological uncanny. At its heart there remains the question of ontological ambiguity. Where are the boundaries between the self and the environment? The uncanny demands that this question is always answered with uncertainty and dissolution.

‘Uncanny Landscapes’ repeats these questions, asking how ambiguity is experienced and understood in terms of landscape and the perceiving subject. How does ambiguity or porosity between subject and landscape arise? How did subject and landscape ever come to be seen as distinct in the first place? Is the uncanny an affective trope or can it be considered as a by-product of distributed agency, a glimpse of a decentred self? Can the Freudian rubrics of the uncanny, such as doubling, compulsion to repeat, apparent telepathy, coincidence, omnipotence of thought, still translate to readings of landscape or is the uncanny located in a  particular historical moment? How does the idea of return (e.g. Derrida’s revenant) create an ambiguous body/landscape? Does Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoid finally and gleefully jettison the subject in favour of an uncanny multiplicity?

These theoretical perspectives are intended merely as momentary guides or loose anchors. The real questions revolve around how geographical thought can approach ambiguity as a framework through which to describe the experience of place and landscape.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

Flat ontologies.

Vital materialism and de-centring of the human subject.

Psychoanalysis and landscape.

Occult landscapes / occult geographies.

The technological uncanny.

Atmospheres and affect.

Paranoiac landscapes.

Architecture / the built environment/ infrastructure and the uncanny.

The event will consist of three strands; an exhibition with artist talks, workshops and finally a one day conference to complete the residency.

The conference strand will take place on Fri 8th March 2013 between 10am and 5pm..

Interested parties should send proposals for 20 minute papers, artists talks and artworks to uncannylandscapes@gmail.com by Friday 14th December 2012.


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